Ann Arbor Friends Meeting
1420 Hill Street Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
Office: M-Th, 9am - Noon • (734) 761-7435 •
Clerks: • 734 996-0825 (c/o Lynn Drickamer)

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Readings for Reflection: March 2016
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

AAFM Response to the LEYM Query

The Query:
How might our Meeting support individuals and the Meeting as a whole in working to increase racial justice within our world? In what ways do we as a Meeting recognize white privilege in our own Meeting? What tools and practices do we use to foster awareness of our personal and corporate biases?

Nineteen Friends, all of whom self-identified as white, met on February 5, 2016 for worship sharing around this query.

A theme of compassion was woven through our worship sharing. We all have much to learn. Many of us feel uncertain about speaking as a white person. We recognize that, like fish in water, we are so immersed in our own privilege that we find it difficult to be aware that there are other experiences. Our challenge is to see people in full – as what they are as well as what they can be. Responding to this, we longed for compassion for each other wherever we are in our awareness, and compassion in our relationships with people of color.

We reflected on using our imagination to connect with people whose experience is different from ours. How would my idea be received if I were a person of color? How am I changed by discovering art from and about the African American experience? Are there times in my life when I was seen as a “problem” that can help me understand W. E. B. Du Bois’ “unasked question”?* Are there ways of creating relationships that build trust and mutual dependence?

Friends observed a sense of support within the Meeting for individual and collective actions, such as welcoming all, celebrating the ethnic diversity of our children, supporting prison visitation, accompanying young people of color caught in the legal system, and advocating on the city level for police reform. Friends noted that through discernment we might use our unearned privilege as a constructive tool.

We grappled with the question of longing for a goal or a vision toward which to work. Sometimes it feels as if there are more questions than answers. Historically Friends have worked on visible objective injustices; we also struggle with implicit biases and structural injustices that are more difficult to pinpoint. We recognize that any vision is not going to be completed in one lifetime, but is like building a cathedral – we have to dedicate ourselves to it, do our part, and support others in its building, even as some parts may be destroyed and need to be rebuilt.

_______________________________________________________________________ * Du Bois’ “unasked question” is found in one of several quotations provided by LEYM and circulated at the worship sharing:

“Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: ... How does it feel to be a problem? ... One ever feels his two-ness – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body ….”

~ W. E. B. Du Bois, “Strivings of the Negro People,” 1897

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